A new foundation for the Wasserngrat

Tue, 12. Mar. 2019
Member of the Board of Directors Antoine Spillman (left) wants to secure the future of the Wasserngrat Chair Lift through a foundation. His brother and father also came to the meeting. Grandfather Spillmann had founded the first chair lift on the Wasserngrat. Sabine Reber

There was a lot of talk about money at the Wasserngrat 2000 AG’s 19th Annual General Meeting. Now, a solution is emerging to secure the necessary funds.

Running a ski resort constantly costs money. Maintaining the ski slopes is more expensive than running the ski lift up the mountain. The 33 shareholders at the Wasserngrat 2000 AG’s 19th Annual General Meeting heard this news last Friday at the Gstaad Palace venue. President of the Board, Philippe Gudin said: "With snow making, piste preparation and safety, the ski runs cost two and a half times more than the mountain ski lift!"

Not only do snow groomers, chair lifts and snow-making systems need to be purchased, but sometimes they also need to be replaced. As with other chair lift stations, the necessary future investments are a major concern for the Wasserngrat. The purchase of a new snow groomer has already gone ahead for around CHF 500,000 and, by 2023, another piste vehicle worth CHF 540,000  will need to be replaced.

A new cable car rope

The electrical installation for the chair lift also needs to be inspected so the licence can be renewed for the next twenty years from 2019 onwards. This will cost CHF 650,000. In addition, the cable car rope must be replaced, which is estimated at CHF 180,000. However, the really big costs will start to kick in when the ski lift comes up for renewal. Those responsible expect this to take place in about twenty years. So, to raise the funds in good time, a foundation will be set up and launched next year for the 20th anniversary of the chair lift. Board member Antoine Spillmann reported this to the Anzeiger von Saanen after the meeting. He’s the grandson of the founder of the first Wasserngrat chair lift. Le Rosey, the Eagle Club, ski associations and the municipality will all participate in the new foundation. Antoine Spillmann said: "We want to widen the circle and not just rely on the Eagle Club." 

The former Eagle Club President, Urs Hodler, addressed the meeting after the ordinary agenda had been dealt with. Once again, he reproached the board of directors for having no sound financial strategy. The Eagle Club holds 95 percent of the shares either directly or indirectly. Hodler had already made these reproaches in previous years but board member Bernhard Nicod responded quickly to reject his criticisms.

Agreement with the BDG

Due to the BDG’s new distribution key, a loss of CHF 83,777 was incurred last year. Chairman of the board, Philippe Gudin, admitted to the meeting: “We’ve lost out here.” However, he reassured those present that the loss wouldn’t be repeated. Negotiations had now taken place with the BDG to regain a point in the distribution key. This should help to make the bill tally again from this year onwards. Gudin assured those present, "We’re now in a healthy position compared to the other stations." Board member Michel Washer added that the change of system had been rather hard to predict, "We couldn’t have predicted the exact implications at the beginning.".

The Wasserngrat will now give up its cheaper day ticket in favour of the BDG’s own day ticket. Other tariffs are also to be slightly increased so the rating once again complies with the BDG's points system. Last year’s loss will be off-set against the new account and the shareholders will waive their dividend. All proposals made by the Board of Directors were unanimously approved by those present.

Timing a success

Those at the meeting also learned that the slalom on a specially-prepared cross-slope to the left of the Tiger Run, with its automatic timing and filming, had been a great success. The new timed system is set to attract as many as 300 visitors a day and is backed by sponsors the Eagle Club and Le Rosey. 

Based on AVS / Sabine Reber
Translated by Justine Hewson


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